If you’re intesrted in headphones, you must know the brand Sennheiser. The German audio company has a wide range of products, including microphones, headphones, and more. But did you know they are also really good at making sports headphones? I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise, although I can’t remember seeing any Sennheiser buds in our best running headphones guide.
Well, this is about to change now that I tried the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless buds, the subject of this review. What makes them special is the unique interchangeable ear tip design that lets you switch between ‘closed’ and ‘open’ modes, essentially turning the buds into a bone-conduction headphones ‘killer’ – Sort of.
Read the full Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless review below to find out whether you should get a pair!
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless review – Price and availability
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless was released May 2022 and is available to buy now directly from Sennheiser US, Sennheiser UK and Sennheiser AU for a recommended retail price of $129.95/£119.99 /AU$199.95. The buds are available in only one colour, black.
At the time of writing, the SPORT True Wireless was on offer in the US for $99.95 – an absolute bargain. As a cheaper alternative, you might want to consider the CX True Wireless, which doesn’t have the wing tips but is currently on offer in the US ($79.95). Sadly, not in the UK or AU, although this might change as we get closer to Black Friday.
On the other hand, the flagship Sennheiser true wireless bud, the CX Plus SE True Wireless, is cheaper in the UK right now: it sells for £159.99, down from £199.99. No wing tips either, but these buds have active noise cancelling IPX4 rating.
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless review – Design and fit
The Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless is all about finding the perfect fit. These lightweight headphones (only 6.8 grams per bud) come with six sets of what Sennheiser calls ear adapters (closed/open, small/medium/large) and four ‘ear fin’ sets (N, S1, S2, S3) to make sure they sit perfectly in your ears.
I used the biggest of all of them, of course, as I have ears as big as Dumbo, but I was surprised that I could find a fit that works as I often struggle with buds falling out of my left ear. The wing tips – sorry, ear fins – press the buds into the ears perfectly, leaving very little room for the sound to escape. This is important as the SPORT True Wireless hasn’t got active noise cancellation (ANC), but even if it did, ill-fitting buds would compromise it.
A secure, tight fit is optimal for exercise and running, but not so much for long-time wear, as I found out during my tests. It’s the same as when companies say their clothing is 100% waterproof and 100% breathable. There is no such thing; it’s either completely waterproof or completely breathable. Something’s got to give.
In the case of the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless, what ‘gives’ is the comfort level when used for long periods of time, which I’m fine with as I need the buds to be secure for running. Sennheiser has plenty of true wireless buds without wing tips in its lineup, so if you’re after headphones you can wear all day long in the office, you’d better browse those.
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless review – Ear tips and charging case
I usually don’t have a separate section on ear tips and charging cases in reviews, but since the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless is all about interchangeable ear tips, I thought it’s best if I explained them further here.
The SPORT True Wireless comes with three sets of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ ear tips (or ear adapters). The idea is that you can swap in the ‘closed’ tips when you’re in the gym to get in the zone (a.k.a. want maximum passive noise cancellation) or change to the ‘open’ tips when you’re out running or cycling (for maximum ambient sound action).
This works well in theory, since you physically alter the hardware to change the sound, so you get a more natural sound than if you only tweaked it in the Sennheiser app. Of course, you can – and should – change the sound profile in the Sennheiser app to match the ear tips you have applied; but even so, the buds will naturally cancel/let in more sound.
The issue is that changing miniature ear tips continuously is not the most convenient thing to do. They roll around, are soft and squishy, slip out of your fingers etc. Do I want to fiddle around with ear tips before I go for a run? Not really, but it’s nice that, in theory, I could. I won’t, but the option is there.
It would also be nice if I could carry the extra tips with me in the otherwise bulky charging case. The Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless’ case looks like a little treasure chest, which – as far as I can tell – serves no purpose whatsoever. It feels hollow and light; surely, Sennheiser could’ve found a way to allow storage for an extra set of tips?
I’m slightly annoyed by the fact that the case is so bulky for no reason, as it makes it impossible to carry it around when I’m out running. A slim case fits better in any pocket, unlike the comparatively rectangular sharing case of the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless that’s impossible to sink in my pocket.
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless review – Battery life
The Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless buds have 55 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable batteries with an operating time of up to nine hours – not bad! Better still, since there is no ANC, there is no ‘secondary battery time’ for when it’s turned on; you get 9 hours out of the buds, no matter what.
The charging case has a 400 mAh battery and stores an additional 27 hours’ worth of battery life, which, if my math is correct, can charge the buds three times over. Charge time is around an hour and a half for a full charge, but you get one hour of of music playtime with just 10-min of charging.
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless review – Sound quality
So, do the different ear tips work? They do, with the help of the Sennheiser app, where you can tailor the sound of the buds even more to maximise sound isolation/ambient sound potential. The Adaptable Acoustics feature has two options: ‘Focus’ or ‘Aware’ mode, the first obviously being the mode you want to choose with the closed tips.
There are also different EQ modes in the app, and you can even create your own using the ‘Sound Check’ feature, which creates a custom preset based on your feedback on a number of different sound options. It’s not quite as sophisticated as the tailored sound some Jabra, and Skullcandy headphones provide, but at least the SPORT True Wireless takes your hearing into account, which is nice.
Passive noise cancellation is excellent (using the ‘closed’ tips); maybe a bit too good, if you ask me. Thanks to the wing tips and the superb fit, the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless quite literally blocks out external sounds, effectively locking you in your head, which I know some runners don’t like – the sensation of your ears throbbing as your heart beats faster.
Thanks to the sizeable, dynamic, closed-back 7 mm driver, the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless produces clear sound across the entire spectrum. The buds haven’t got the most potent sound output I’ve ever heard, but when combined with passive noise cancelling, it feels strong and audible enough for you to be able to make out both voices and instruments in music/podcasts etc.
I enjoyed listening to electronic music the most on the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless; think Underwaterfall by Bearcubs or It’s Only by ODESZA – not the most bass-heavy stuff, but songs with more mid-range focus. For a bassier sound, I’d probably choose Soundcore’s Sport X10 or the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro (read my Amazfit PowerBuds Pro review for more info).
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless review – Verdict
What makes true wireless headphones suitable for exercise?
A) They need to be water/sweatproof – The Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless is IP54 rated for dust and splash. Check!
B) They must have a secure but comfortable fit – These headphones fit perfectly, although they aren’t most comfortable for long-term wear
C) They should have decent sound quality – The SPORT True Wireless has excellent sound, better than some more expensive headsets
D) Offers some level of situational awareness – Thanks to the ‘open’ and ‘closed’ ear adaptor system, the SPORT True Wireless not only lets in more noise when required but can also isolate you from your surroundings if that’s what you want.
As you can see, the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless is this close [holds two fingers up very close to each other] to be the perfect headphones for running and exercise. Should it not be for the faff of having to change ear tips (and the silly charging case situation), it might even reach the top of our running headphones guide.
I hope the second iteration of the Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless headphones will doctor these issues – I look forward to testing them soon!
Sennheiser SPORT True Wireless review – Also consider
The Jaybird Vista 2 have an even better water rating than the Jabra Elite 7 Active and feature an equally compact body; however, Jaybird’s top buds have wing tips to ensure the wireless headphones stay in place better.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active buds are a significant update over the Jabra Elite Active 75t and offer more personalised sound and ANC, better fit via the ShakeGrip coating and even improved call performance thanks to the three-microphone-per-bud setup. If you aren’t too keen on wing tips, the Elite 7 Active are your best option for running headphones.
The Beats Fit Pro are a stellar pair of active earbuds. Great battery life and implementation of features such as transparency mode and active noise cancellation are paired with solid sound and a tight, secure fit, making them ideal running headphones. They’re only held back by a less than stellar mic and a fit that, while very secure, can become uncomfortable after a while.